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Sep 22

Legion of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

“A Canticle for Liebenden”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Toom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Legion, Banshee, Pixie, Nightcrawler, Juggernaut and for some reason Storm, standing around.

PAGE 2. Data page. Obviously, this is Professor X writing about his son Legion (David Haller). By likening Legion to something that he “crafted”, Professor X could just be referring to his status as Legion’s biological father – but it’s more likely a reference to the data pages in Powers of X #6 which indicate that Moira MacTaggert deliberately identified genetic partners for herself and Professor X to produce powerful reality-altering mutants. The obvious implication was that this was the genesis of Proteus and Legion. (Professor X’s continuing discomfort with Legion’s power and lack of controllability should probably also be seen in this light.)

PAGE 3. Recap and credits.

“A Canticle for Liebenden.” The title is probably a reference to Walter Miller’s novel A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), about a monastic order preserving knowledge in the centuries after a nuclear war, until humanity is ready for it again. Liebenden means lovers or loving. A canticle is a kind of hymn. If this sounds familiar, the same book was referenced in passing in Immortal X-Men #3, though that’s probably just a coincidence.

PAGES 4-6. Legion runs wild, and is subdued by Blindfold.

Switch possessed Legion near the end of the previous issue.

“Is that a giant floating eye being ridden by a baby’s body?” The little body perched on top of Ora Serrata’s eye has always been there, going back to issue #1, but our attention has never been drawn to it before, and in fact the vast majority of panels either obscure it, keep it out of shot, or de-emphasise it – it’s only really prominent in her reveal in issue #1. This issue marks a major departure in the way Ora Serrata is presented, as her plans are exposed and she’s made to appear more vulnerable.

The Qortex Complex, home of Legion’s other personalities, was previously mentioned in issue #1, and ultimately comes from X-Men Legacy vol 2 #2-3.

Blindfold‘s astral form is able to punch Switch out of Legion’s body and send him back to his own.

PAGES 6-8. Nightcrawler confronts Ora Serrata, and she goes on a rampage.

“Named for a worm.” This is one of the first things that Zsen said about Nightcrawler when they met in issue #1, but Ora didn’t start banging on about it until she became defensive.

“I gave Zsen specific instructions! Tumult was not to be spoken to until I was present.” In issue #3, and that’s not exactly what she said. “Find him and nothing more. Do not engage him. Do not listen to the lies of a trickster! Find him – and contact me. I will acquaint him with Arakkii law.”

“In the Circle Perilous, you claimed nobody knew the god’s name…” In issue #1. “There was one, a god of mischief. We don’t know it’s name. It caused chaos, then fled before we could summon it. An insult to our ways. We believe it ran to Krakoa.”

“You told me that in times of civil unrest, all Arakkii defer to the Chair of Law.” Earlier in issue #1. “Six hundred years ago, in the eversiege of Amenth, a wave of civil disorder crippled our unity. Those beset by anarchy cannot wage war. At such times, all Arakkii defer to the Chair of Law.”

“You could not give it the faith it needed – only disdain…” In issue #1, Ora Serrata is openly contemptuous of all the gods that have manifested to the Arakkii.

“I am formally arresting you…” Does Nightcrawler actually have authority to arrest one of the Great Ring? Bear in mind that the portal to the Altar is on Arakko, not Krakoa.

PAGES 9-10. The Legion catch up with Tumult and Switch.

“I will bring offerings unto myself.” Last issue, Nightcrawler was persuading Tumult that “Perhaps it is time that we tried to believe in ourselves.”

No-Place. Obviously, Tumult has stopped shielding the location from Warlock. That implies that this isn’t a “tumour”-style No-Place of the sort that was established in House of X, but just a part of Krakoa that’s been magically shielded from monitoring.

PAGES 11-15. Ora Serrata is defeated.

Nightcrawler‘s initial reaction to the threat of annihilation is to babble on about the Spark. Part of his original rationale for the Spark was that the removal of the threat of mortality provided the opportunity for new levels of creative risk-taking. Legion has to shut him down and argue that this is rose-tinted nonsense. That said, it’s not obvious why the destruction of the Altar would prevent the people inside from being resurrected – but the mechanics of resurrection are what they are.

“To paraphrase a clever dead bloke…” Nietzsche, obviously.

“To appreciate my gifts, the boy needs crises.” Mother Righteous made an offer to Legion in issue #2 to give him power in exchange for his “thanks”. He hadn’t decided at the end of the issue whether to take the offer. Presumably, what she means here is that she wants Legion to experience some crises so that he’ll be motivated to take the deal.

“There’s a few of me older cards in play.” As confirmed later on, Mother Righteous means Tumult, who was created as part of her deal with Ora Serrata.

PAGE 16. Data page (of sorts) – a handwritten letter from Zsen to Nightcrawler. Her tour of Arakko was last issue.

PAGES 17-19. Tumult and Switch are dealt with in the arena.

Tumult has permanently switched bodies with the irredeemable Switch, leaving him to be torn apart in the arena. This is an oddly brutal punishment, since Switch presumably can’t be resurrected while his body remains alive. Storm and Zsen both seem pretty relaxed about that.

Ora Serrata appears to be able to make and revoke laws, not just supervise them. That invites the question of what the rest of the Great Ring are for. But maybe the revocation of the Godlaw is something that she previously ran past them.

Uqesh is her predecessor in the Seat of Law, whom she kept around to summon gods with, as explained in issue #1.

Zsen was expressly offered freedom from her vow of service if she fulfilled her mission.

PAGES 20-21. Montage with Zsen’s letter to Kurt.

Zsen signs up for a mercenary battalion (presumably in space) and leaves Kurt with a “painting with truth” that she’s created. We don’t see it, but we’re given the distinct impression that it shows Kurt something alarming.

PAGE 22. Ora Serrata and Mother Righteous.

As already noted, “thanks” is what Mother Righteous wanted from Legion too. Mother Righteous insists that she honoured the deal in both letter and spirit, and that it’s not her fault that Ora Serrata was too arrogant to be able to use the magic effectively.

PAGE 23. Mother Righteous and Banshee.

Spirit of Variance. This description of Banshee’s Ghost Rider component is new. Apparently, it’s a mutant Spirit of Vengeance kicked out of the clan. It and Banshee are similarly in Righteous’s thrall.

PAGE 24. Uranos attacks.

This is a lead-in to A.X.E.: Judgment Day, trailing the crossover next month.

PAGE 25. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    If they insist on continuing the concept of Xavier breeding Legion like a labradoodle, I hope they do something like Xavier first approaching Gabrielle Haller semi-willingly as part of the plan, then he actually fell for her, leading to him running away before she could actually become pregnant, not realising it was already too late.

    Because otherwise, it’s the kind of story you’d cringe at the Red Skull doing, let alone someone other writers might want to use as a heroic character in future.

  2. Sam says:

    Wasn’t it established or heavily implied in the run up to Age of Apocalypse that Legion was his own father?

  3. Si says:

    Oh yeah. God, it’s not even the first “his own dad” story Marvel did. Happily they never mention Captain Marvel’s boyfriend/son these days either.

  4. Ceries says:

    I kind of find it fascinating that the answer to “what happens to people who are awful but don’t technically break the law” is apparently “Nightcrawler has them secretly extrajudicially executed in a way they can’t come back from.”

    With a superhero story that’s theoretically supposed to involve some degree of thought on the subject of justice you’d think there might be something about the need for accountability in one’s police force or the way that all state justice is essentially about deterring vigilantism, but nope, secret execution. If your police are secretly murdering people that’s what you might call a failure of justice in other societies.

    Like, is Kurt meant to read as a failure in this book?

  5. SanityOrMadness says:


    Nightcrawler explicitly doesn’t know what they did with Switch. Zsen & Storm set it up behind his back.

    (What he thinks was meant to happen is, of course, a separate and unanswered question.)

  6. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I dropped this but the recap had me thinking.

    Yes, the Moira retcon turns Xavier into a repulsive, irredeemable villain.

    But also it turns him into an idiot.

    You selectively breed a god level mutant son who’s necessary for all your future plans and then treat him like absolute dog shit for his entire life?

    How was that supposed to turn out?

  7. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Also of all the things the Banshee character needs, I don’t think Ghost Ridering was one of them.

    Poor guy juuuuust got over being a horseman and a zombie.

  8. Michael says:

    What’s weird is the scene with Mother Righteous and Ora. At first I thought she was taking Ora’s soul but the idea seems to be that Ora’s soul hurts unless she thanks Mother Righteous. So what does it mean to thank Mother Righteous? Why does Mother Righteous want thanks so badly?

  9. Rob says:

    Been a while since I read House of X. Is it possible Moira set Charles up with Gabrielle without him knowing? He can’t read her mind so she could have set the gears in motion herself, knowing that if she leaves him, Charles heads to Israel, where he falls in love with Gabrielle, as he may have done in a previous life.

  10. Josie says:

    Banshee? Not Ghost Rider?

  11. Chris V says:

    Rob-No, I’m pretty sure Hickman explicitly states that Moira and Charles work together to figure out the perfect genes they will need to breed with in order to create the desired mutant.
    At least, Moira’s journal entry reads that way. She says that “all they lack is a mutant with reality-warping powers” (vis-a-vis mutant resurrection). She says she uses her knowledge of genetics to find the perfect partner for both her and Charles. That sounds to me like Charles would have been informed of Moira’s plan and he was complicit in it.
    I believe it is also mentioned that Legion and Proteus only existed in Life Ten.
    It probably would have been better, if Hickman’s intent was always to set up Moira was the perfect manipulator, to put the onus for most of this unpleasantness on Moira rather than making Xavier a morally reprehensible person.

    Uncanny X-Ben-Basically, Moira decided that Proteus was the reality-warping mutant they needed, so Legion had no purpose. I guess that is why Xavier treated Legion so poorly. He had to seduce a patient of his in order to get her pregnant, and it was all for nothing. In Xavier’s amoral and egotistical mind, this is a good reason to blame and dislike the child.
    It just makes Xavier all the more sympathetic, doesn’t it?

  12. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Sure, but wouldn’t it be smart to have a back up?

    How long until they knew Proteus was a better fit?

    Xavier was absent/a dick from the jump.

  13. Jenny says:

    Do demons even have DNA? How does being a mutant demon work?

  14. Alexx Kay says:

    Jenny, there is precedent for beings getting considered “honorary mutants”, even when they’re entirely unrelated to humanity, or even Earth. Warlock of the New Mutants for one, and I think Broo is another.

  15. alsoMike says:

    I expect the next story arc of this book after AXE will be that one of Legion’s alters decided to run away instead of fight when let out in this issue (or that they had already escaped before that). There’s been teases in the background of multiple issues of one of the glass cages cracking more and more as someone is trying to get out.

  16. Bengt says:

    I think having the other character go behind Nightcrawler’s back for the arc’s big moral question is a bit of a cop-out.

    So does Spurrier think Ora actually is a child? Other portrayals have been of a adult that happens to have small body because of mutants. Page 22 would be very weird for an adult, even an entitled or spoiled one.

  17. Michael says:

    @Jenny- I don’t think that the Spirit of Variance is TECHNICALLY a mutant. I think the idea is that the Spirit is compassionate while the rest of its kind is vengeful.The idea is that Mother Righteous wasn’t sure if the Krakoans could free Sean from her thrall using resurrection or Illyana’s Soulsword or the Siege Perilous but if they try then the Spirit get sent back to the rest of its kind who will do horrible things to it. It’s just that “mutant Spirit” is easier to say than “Spirit who is nice while the rest of its kind are evil that Mother Righteous is using to blackmail Sean”.

  18. Jenny says:

    @Alexx Kay, Oh sure, I know that, but it just feels odd to have a supernatural entity be a mutant as well. Warlock and Broo (and Zzxz over in Marauders) are all at least mutants of natural alien lifeforms.

  19. Mike Loughlin says:

    Demons could be considered aliens from another dimension who inspire or just so happen to resemble creatures from Earthly beliefs. The Marvel U is full of “gods” who fit that description, why not demons? And if aliens like Warlock and Broo can be mutants in a sense, so can “demons.” That’s my rationale for a “mutant demon.”

    There are occasional non-corporeal mutants, too. Malice and (until recently) No-Girl spring to mind.

    Anyway, I liked elements of this comic, but three things dragged it down. 1) As pointed out above, going behind Nightcrawler’s back to exact vengeance is a total cop-out; 2) Ora Serrata drops the name of the god she worshipped when no one had mentioned it before. So stupid. Like, “we don’t know how else to end this episode of ‘Law & Order'” stupid; 3) did a ton of Legion’s alters just get destroyed? That seems like a waste of storytelling potential, and something that will prove damaging, but I suspect it will be treated as a good thing. I don’t like that approach to writing a character with a psychological condition.

  20. Thom H. says:

    I was thinking that the voluntary mind-wipes that Charles went through might absolve him of some of his lapses in Legion’s care, but then I realized they were voluntary. So I guess Charles really is the worst dad in history.

  21. Chris V says:

    The mindwipes* may explain why Xavier was such a negligent dad to Legion from the beginning (considering Uncanny X-Ben’s comments). He didn’t want to realize what he had done in siring Legion. Of course, that continues to portray Xavier as a narcissist. He rapes Gabrielle. Realizes he had a child with her. Instead of taking any responsibility, he decides he doesn’t want to deal with the guilt. Leaves his son.
    There’s no way you can frame Xavier with Hickman’s retcon other than that he’s a terrible person.

    Of course, the voluntary mindwipes were another aspect of Hickman’s run which were never addressed again. So, who knows what the intent was with that.

    Michael-Warlock is considered a mutant due to his ability to feel empathy, which is completing absent from the rest of his race. So, there’s certainly precedent for this Spirit to be considered an actual mutant.

  22. Jon R says:

    I’m thinking that ‘thanks’ to Mother Righteous is a form of worship or obligation that she gets power from. She’s not a god because that wouldn’t fit with Ora well, but she’s *something* that draws strength or life from peoples’ focus.

  23. YLu says:

    Worth pointing out that the Spirit of Variance is never referred to as a mutant. He gets called an “abomination” at one point and a “freak” at another but never a “mutant” — though we’re obviously meant to draw the comparison, yeah.

    @Mike Loughlin
    Legion essentially has infinite alters (maybe not literally, but functionally, yeah) so I’m not sure it changes things much if indeed are bunch of nameless ones were erased.

  24. MasterMahan says:

    I agree with Uncanny X-Ben that the eugenics retcon makes Xavier look particularly idiotic. Xavier was already monstrous with things like his treatment toward Sage or erasing all memory of Vulcan’s team, but not despicable *and* stupid. The idea that he tried to breed a reality warper but never checked to see if it works doesn’t make sense, not for a man who has a worldwide mutant detection system. Thus, Xavier deliberately abandoned a vulnerable, dangerous godling rather than, say, helping raise him and getting a really powerful X-Man out of the deal.

    There’s got be a retcon somewhere to make that smoother. Chris V’s suggestion that Xavier couldn’t stomach the guilt of raping a patient. Perhaps it was some idiotic form of protection. Xavier was afraid of what Sinister would do with David’s genetic code, whereas it’s kind of hard to steal Proteus’s genes. Xavier didn’t trust Moira to not manipulate David. Etc.

    Perhaps it’s for the best that rights bickering prevented Magneto from also having a reality-warper child he conceived with a human.

  25. Si says:

    Hmm, I wonder if Scarlet Witch was planned as a third reality warper child via Magneto, but her own retcon forced Hickman to revise. It would have been a bit of Hickman-esque symmetry, after all.

    Mind you, there’s still an easy out with these unsavoury retcons. Hoxpox was deliberately narrated by Moira herself. There’s no reason to believe she was telling the truth.

  26. Michael says:

    @JonR- I think we’re supposed to assume she’s a demon- Shaw summoned her with a pentagram and a heart, she’s one of Selene’s associates and Selene has associated with demons in the past, etc.
    There’s precedent for something like this in the MU- Dormammu draws power when people work worship him. And now I’m imagining a face-off between Exodus and Dormammu where each of them tries to get more worshipers.

  27. JDSM24 says:

    It’s obvious to me that the Absolutely-inorganic retcon of Pietro and Wanda NOT being Erik’s biological children with Magda is not going to be around forever , which is why they ALREADY put backdoors to cancel the retcon: Wanda mysteriously being able to be saved by Cerebro in order to be resurrected , Wanda being required to be part of the trio (with Proteus and Legion) needed in order to be able to magically create the x-gene mutant afterlife of the Waiting Room , Vision seeing a secret in the High Evolutionary’s files concerning Wanda and Pietro so disturbing that he could never tell them, which fortuitously happens immediately after HE “reveals” to them that they were never x-gene mutants nor Magneto’s bio-kids, but the bio-kids of the Spouses Maximoff who raised them, a “revelation” that itself gets retconned soon afterward in the Scarlet Witch solo-series, when it’s revealed that they are only the bio-nephew/niece of Django Maximoff, and their bio-mom is his sister, “Natalya”, who is identical to Ultimate Magda (and Natalya as a ghost further reveals that her babydaddy snapped and killed her when they met again after being apparently separated and she refused to tell him where their kids were, and conveniently they never say nor show just WHO he is.)

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